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NAC girls soccer preview: Lisbon goalie Sovie a natural netminder

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Just how much does Lisbon senior Jackie Sovie like soccer?

So much that, when she was a freshman, she got a full-sized soccer goal for her back yard as a Christmas present.

Sovie, who is nicknamed the Ninja Goalie, has her own Facebook athlete page and is hoping to attend St. Lawrence University next year to play women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse.

“She has a natural athletic ability and is very easy to coach,” Golden Knights coach Scott Richardson said. “She stepped it up so much this year. She went to four soccer camps and was running hills by herself. She just pushes herself.”

Sovie is so dedicated to the sport that sometimes she will have the team over to her house to practice even if Richardson isn’t around.

Richardson gave the team a day off on Monday because of stormy weather, so Sovie gathered the squad in her back yard, and they went through a regular practice.

“Our school won’t let us practice on Sundays, so before playoff games we’ll have a captain’s practice over here,” Sovie said.

Sovie led Lisbon to a 13-4-2 record last season, recording 10 shutouts and allowing only 14 goals.

A starter since her freshman year, Sovie has 19 career shutouts heading into this season.

“She can make some amazing saves,” Richardson said. “Even with shots in practice, if she couldn’t get it she puts in 100 percent and tries to get it. Since she does that, when she doesn’t make a save she works hard on those impossible shots and sometimes she gets those (in games). She’s really quick to get on the ground and handles things in the air well. She’s a solid player.

Sovie, being a student of the game, even knows her own limitations. The biggest one is being only 5-foot-5.

“I’m definitely not a 6-footer, so balls they can get to, I have to work on my drop step to get,” she said. “I don’t think my height is a limitation.”

One of the jobs of a soccer goalie, besides making saves, is directing the defensive players in front of her.

“She communicates with everybody,” Richardson said. “She’s a two-year captain and the girls just respect her because of how hard she works. She sees the game really well, and she understands it really well. She helps bring the people in front of her to raise their level of play.”

One of Lisbon’s starting defensive players is Sovie’s younger sister, Katie, a sophomore.

“Katie and I are either best friends or worst enemies,” Sovie said. “We like to bicker a lot, but when it comes to the soccer field, she knows I’m in charge back there. She listens well.”

Sovie plays soccer and basketball for Lisbon, but she spends her spring playing on Heuvelton’s girls lacrosse team, because Lisbon does not offer the sport.

Unlike soccer, Sovie is an attacker in lacrosse and was teased about her love of that sport by Lisbon soccer assistant Bruce Richardson, the former boys coach at the school.

“He said, ‘I know why you love lacrosse, you love it because you score goals and you get to run up and down the field,’ ” Sovie said.

Lisbon’s first game this fall was an Ogdensburg Free Academy Tournament encounter with Heuvelton, which ended in a 2-2 tie. Lisbon won a shootout 4-3 to advance to the championship game.

Many of Heuvelton’s soccer players are Sovie’s teammates in lacrosse and the Bulldogs coach, Gus Burns, coaches her in lacrosse.

“In soccer they are still the enemy,” Sovie said. “I’ll talk to them after a game, but when I’m on the field, I don’t know them.”

Whatever sport Sovie winds up playing in college, Richardson knows she’ll excel somewhere.

“She’s a hard competitor,” Richardson said. “She can definitely play at the college level. When she gets around even better players she will raise her own game.”

NAC OUTLOOK

After playing in a four-division format last year, the Northern Athletic Conference is returning to three divisions this season.

The Central and West Divisions will remain similar, with the exception of Norwood-Norfolk joining the Central. The East Division will be a combination of the teams that were in the North and East last year.

The West Division has good teams at the top and last year’s champion Heuvelton will face a strong test from Lisbon. Hammond and Harrisville were also among the top teams last year, but lost some key players to graduation.

The top teams in the new East Division appear to be defending champion Chateaugay as well as North Division champion Brushton-Moira and Parishville-Hopkinton.

Defending champion Massena should be favored again in the Central, but Canton, Potsdam, Malone and Ogdensburg Free Academy could all contend.

Some of the top returning players in the area include Chateaugay’s Hannah Cook, Heuvelton’s Alexis Weidner, Parishville-Hopkinton’s Kodi Perkins, Brushton-Moira’s Kenzie Traynor, Lisbon’s Jackie Sovie, Malone’s Morgan Fountain, Madrid-Waddington’s Taylor Lenny and St. Lawrence Central’s Lindsay Thayer.

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